Malta's total refugee and irregular migrant arrivals in 2015: 105

Report published by International Organisation for Migration (IOM).says Europe saw one million arrivals to date, this year 

A Maltese AFM rescue of asylum seekers at sea carried out on (Photo: Ray Attard)
A Maltese AFM rescue of asylum seekers at sea carried out on (Photo: Ray Attard)

A total of 105 irregular migrants and refugees arrived on Maltese shores by sea this year, according to a report published today by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The figure is part of the much larger total of irregular migrants and refugees who sought shelter in Europe - as of yesterday, over a million irregular migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, mostly from Syria, Africa and South Asia.

The organisation counted 999,745 irregular arrivals from across the Mediterranean, including migrants travelling by both land and sea to Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy and Cyprus, besides Malta.

The report calculates the total arrivals to Europe to be approximately 1,005,504, with just 3% coming by land, making it the highest migration flow since World War II.

3,692 would-be migrants or refugees perished in their attempt to reach safety, around 400 more than in 2014. At least 30 additional deaths of African migrants seeking to enter Europe through Spain’s Canary Islands have been reported.

A growing number of victims are young children. On December 19th a wooden boat carrying 62 migrants capsized off Chios Island in Greece, causing a 2-year old Iraqi boy to drown. According to the Greek Coast Guard, six of the 15 bodies of migrants and refugees to wash up on Greek islands this month have been infants or children.

“We know migration is inevitable, necessary and desirable,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.  “But it’s not enough to count the number of those arriving - or the nearly 4,000 this year reported missing or drowned. We must also act. Migration must be legal, safe and secure for all - both for the migrants themselves and the countries that will become their new homes.”

In December alone, IOM estimates that 67,700 or more migrants have crossed into Greece through the country’s maritime borders.  During the same period, some 52,500 people crossed from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM.) This means that roughly 77% of all migrant arrivals in December already have passed through Greece and into FYROM and other points further north.

Since the beginning of the year, IOM estimates that over 810,000 migrants and refugees have crossed into Greece by sea, with only about 5,000 migrants making the crossing overland.

According to IOM’s monitoring system between 9-20 December 45.6% of migrants crossing Greece’s FYRoM border were male adults; 21.9% were female adults; 35% were accompanied children and 1.5% unaccompanied minors. The vast majority are Syrians, followed by Iraqi and Afghans, as no other nationalities are now allowed to cross.The IOM offers migrants who have been turned back from the border assisted, voluntary return to their country of origin. An increasing number of migrants, notably Moroccans, are showing interest in this option.